Apologize to OFWs over Kuwait row, Migrante tells PH gov't

MANILA, Philippines – Militant group Migrante International on Thursday, April 26, demanded an apology from the Philippine government to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for a diplomatic row with Kuwait over OFW rescue operations that angered the Arab country.

The Kuwaiti government declared Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa persona non grata and ordered him to leave the country within a week after officials of the Philippine embassy conducted rescue operations for allegedly abused OFWs, a move that Kuwait hit as “undiplomatic.”

The group slammed the spread of a video of the rescue operations on social media.

The video came from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and was released to the media and a pro-Duterte blogger who posted it on Facebook. Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Deputy Administrator Arnell Ignacio has earlier criticized the sharing of the video to the public, admitting that the operation in the video is considered a crime in Kuwait.

"Instead of creating policies and bilateral agreements that would benefit the domestic workers in Kuwait, Filipino officials in connivance with prominent DDS bloggers opted to run an action-filled video production meant to create public drama without contemplating the serious repercussions related to the ongoing diplomatic dispute,” Migrante said in a statement.

The group demanded the government "reveal the masterminds and partakers of this stupidity and make them fully accountable.”

PH-Kuwait tensions

Relations between the two countries have already been tense since the Philippines banned the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait upon the orders of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who had slammed the country over the abuse of OFWs there. 

After the video of the rescue operations went viral, Kuwait's Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Philippine ambassador, handing him two protest notes.

Kuwait's order for Ambassador Villa to leave came even after the Philippines apologized to Kuwait on Tuesday, April 24 for the rescues done "in the spirit of emergency action to protect Filipinos."

In a statement, the DFA said Kuwait's decision is "deeply disturbing."

The DFA also confirmed on Thursday, April 26, that Kuwait has issued arrest warrants against 3 Filipino diplomats, while 4 of the embassy's Filipino hires remain in detention.

As a challenge to the administration, Gabriela Womens Party representatives Emmi De Jesus and Arlene Brosas at the House of Representatives filed a resolution on Thursday, urging the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs to conduct an inquiry on the numerous cases of abuse committed against domestic helpers in the Middle East. – Rappler.com